6 essential skills to be a good translator

The must-have list of skills a translator needs in order to be hired by a professional translation services provider.

It can prove difficult to recognize a good translator at work! We see a person sitting in front of a computer and some time later, there are two possible outcomes: a good or a bad translation. But if we want to be more specific, we can list six skills that a translator needs to have so as to get hired by a good language service provider.

Whether a good translation agency needs to provide a business translation, a website translation, or subtitling, this translation agency must be able to guarantee a client that the job will be done by translators who possess these six skills:

1. Knowledge of the Source Language

Translators need in-depth knowledge and understanding of the language they are translating so as not to miss any implicit meanings inherent to the language.

2. Knowledge of the Target Language

Translators must also have a perfect mastery of the target language in order to properly reproduce the context or tone of the original text.

3. Knowledge of Cross-Language Connections

Moreover, knowing two languages is a pretty astounding accomplishment on its own, but it is not enough: the translator must also have a deep-rooted understanding of etymological and linguistic correlations between the two languages required for the translation.

4. Understanding Cultural Contexts

There is more! In addition to knowing both languages and understanding the relationship between them, translators must also use their knowledge of the two cultures. A language is a set of words and grammatical rules, but also an extensive system of connotations and cultural references.

5. Subject Knowledge

Translators’knowledge should not only be linguistic. Indeed they need to be familiar with the subject matter of the text to be translated, considering that this knowledge includes meanings and specific vocabulary for a particular field or industry.

6. Knowledge of the Mechanisms of Transmission of Meaning

Translators need to know when to use a literal translation or a proper equivalent, and when to seek a dynamic or functional equivalent that will replicate the meaning of the text as dependably as possible.

Therefore, the role of the translator is like that of an actor in a play. Translation services involve making decisions, in turn requiring interpretation. This applies to literary texts, but also to all other types of linguistic jobs such as scientific or legal translation.

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